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Brussels wants to veto the addition of sugar in fruit juices

Valor Econômico Newspaper - 09/24/2010

The European Union announced that it is sewing a project to prohibit the addition of sugar in most fruit juices marketed in the block, with the aim of imposing a healthy food production in its 27 member countries.

The measure may favor the orange juice from Brazil, which contains no added sugar and is one of the main products exported by the country for that market.

Currently, Europe allows the packaged juice to contain 150 grams of sugar per liter. In fruit nectars, the limit is 20% of the total weight, as with water and sugar. Amid a growing obesity in the population and health spending derived from this trend, Brussels ruled that these parameters are exaggerated and has led governments to encourage new patterns of consumption.

In this context, emerged the project which proposes the formal prohibition of added sugar in most fruit juices and rules on production, composition and labeling of juices and the like. The nectars are the exception. The measure aligned European practice to Codex standards Alimentarium, document that establishes international food standards.

The project, which must be approved by the European Parliament, differentiates juice and fruit concentrates and for the first time, includes in the list tomato as a fruit. There are no signs of opposition of any EU member country, nor enthusiasm among merchants and consumers.

In the EU market fruit juices represent 10% of the total consumption of soft drinks in the block. Most juices come from Brazil, who also sells to the European not-from-concentrate orange juice (NFC), whose demand is growing and that does not contain sugar. Juices ready for consumption, to be affected by the new project, are bought mainly from Spain and a small quantity from Brazil.

According to Christian Lohbauer, President of Brazilian Association of Citrus Exporters (CitrusBR), the lower the permitted addition of sugar, more sugar from the fruit itself will be needed to produce blends that are pleasing to the consumer. It is worth remembering that the global demand for 100% orange juice is dropping because of increased competition from drinks with lower content of juices.